Maybe this will be the time that advocates find the right mix of ingredients to make the Broadway Market a year-round attraction. With the city on an upswing, the time is certainly right to try again.
The renowned, 129-year-old market on Buffalo’s East Side is a hot spot every Easter season. But tired and in need of being reimagined, it’s a ghost town at other times of the year. Now, City Hall is planning to finance some improvements that it hopes will spur other development around the area. It’s a sensible approach to the related goals of preserving an existing city asset and leveraging it to the area’s long-term benefit.
Among the plans for updating and reimagining the Broadway Market are:
• A $450,000 “community kitchen” featuring a commercial-grade, stainless-steel stove, refrigerator and freezer. Guest chefs will offer healthy cooking classes and demonstrations on various techniques. Those demonstrations could be recorded and shown on the city’s public access TV channels.
• Free Wi-Fi for customers, possibly to be available by next Easter. It’s already available to businesses, including temporary vendors, helping them conduct electronic transactions during the Easter season.
• Resurfacing of the market’s flooring is already underway and will continue in several phases. Eventually, flooring throughout the building will be stripped, replaced and polished. The entire project should be completed by 2018.
• For an additional sense of security, a Broadway Market police substation should be completed by the end of the year in vacant second-floor space. It will operate around the clock, 365 days a year and will be staffed with a minimum of 30 police officers. The station should also be a boon to the larger Broadway-Fillmore area.
Plans to improve or even move the Broadway Market have been floated for years to little noticeable result. But now, with new life animating the city, these proposals could usher in a new era for the market, which should remain where it is. The East Side of Buffalo has few enough assets that can draw such crowds.
There is already some evidence that the strategy is working. An Aldi supermarket opened across the street in 2012 and investors are buying properties in the area, including the former Kmart across the street from the market. Those are hopeful signs in a city where politicians and planners have learned how to fuse hope with concrete plans that produce results.
That’s what is needed at the Broadway Market. No doubt, other creative plans will appear, but this initial effort by the city is well conceived and well worth the expense.